Non-profit

Reclaim the Block

Type:

Political advocacy group

Reclaim the Block is a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based political organization that advocates for the defunding of the Minneapolis Police Department. [1] The group was organized in 2018 as a coalition of Minneapolis-area activists to pressure the Minneapolis City Council during the budget process. [2]

Lobbying efforts led by Reclaim the Block and activist allies have resulted in the reallocation of over $1 million for proposed police hires[3] and in commitments by a majority of Minneapolis councilmembers to initiate the dissolution of city’s police force. [4]

Protests and civil unrest following the 2020 death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis police custody, brought additional attention to Reclaim the Block’s advocacy. [5] The incident became a catalyst across the United States for increased police scrutiny and broader calls by left-of-center activists for the defunding and abolition of police departments.

Mission and History

Reclaim the Block organizes activists and pressures city lawmakers in support of reduced funding for Minneapolis police. [6] The organization supports diverting public dollars from the police budget into “community-led health and safety strategies.” [7]

Prior to Reclaim the Block’s founding, a coalition of community activists in Minneapolis launched the MPD150 project in 2017 to develop “a practical pathway for dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department.” [8] Inspired by MPD150’s research, many of these same activists helped organize Reclaim the Block in 2018 to reduce police funding in the 2019 Minneapolis budget process. [9]

Representing several activist groups, including the Black Visions Collective, the new movement called for the city to divest 5% of police funding from the Minneapolis police budget. The efforts were ultimately successful in convincing the Minneapolis City Council to divert $1.1 million from Mayor Jacob Frey’s (D) proposed budget into the creation of an Office of Violence Prevention and alternative community programs. [10] The diverted funds were originally intended to pay for eight new police officers in Minneapolis. [11]

The following year, Reclaim the Block returned to the budget fight in demanding the removal of a $2 million earmark for the hiring of fourteen new officers proposed by Mayor Frey for the 2020 fiscal year. [12] While the 2020 budget passed with a 5% increase in funding for the police department, the funds proposed for the new hires were reallocated to pay for a new cadet class instead. [13]

Affiliated Organizations

Black Visions Collective

The radical-left Black Visions Collective describes itself as a “Black-led, Queer and Trans centering organization.” [14] Reclaim the Block credits this group for providing the “skills and vision” critical to its work. [15]

Members of the Minneapolis Black Lives Matter affiliate helped establish the Black Visions Collective in 2017. [16] The organization’s executive director Kandace Montgomery is also a member of Reclaim the Block. [17]

MPD150

MPD150 is a Minneapolis-based project that facilitated the creation of Reclaim the Block. In 2017, MPD150 marked the 150th anniversary of the Minneapolis police department with the release of a 36-page report providing a radical-left interpretation of the history of local law enforcement. [18]

As a core finding, MPD150 holds that “police were established to protect the interests of the wealthy and racialized violence has always been a part of that mission”[19] and insists on the eventual abolition of the city’s police force. [20] MPD150 also claims that police departments were originally created to persecute minorities and continue to be harmful to minority communities. [21]

Resources developed by MPD150 call for a transition to a “police-free future” by replacing police functions with community-based social services. To this end, MPD150 proposes the reallocation of police funds into housing, education, healthcare, and employment programs. [22]

According to MPD150’s website, the project is “horizontally organized” and does not operate under the purview of any specific organization. [23] However, according to reports, the Black Visions Collective is an instrumental part of MPD150[24] and Reclaim the Block member Tony Williams is a contributor to MPD150’s work. [25]

NGP VAN

NGP VAN, Inc. is a privately owned technology company that specializes in providing data management services to Democratic campaigns and left-of-center non-profits. [26] Both Reclaim the Block and the Black Visions Collective solicit online donations using NGP VAN’s EveryAction fundraising platform for non-profits. [27] [28]

2020 Minneapolis Protests

In 2020, Minneapolis became the center of a national debate on racism and policing in the United States following the death of George Floyd. Floyd, a black man, died while being restrained by officers of the Minneapolis Police Department sparking protests against alleged police brutality. The officers involved later were charged with criminal offenses. [29]

As tensions flared locally, and across the country, Reclaim the Block accelerated efforts to build public support for defunding police. A petition published on the group’s website accused police of “escalated violence” against the Black community and called for a halt to increases in police funding. [30] The petition also proposed a $45 million cut from the police budget to cover a loss of tax revenue due to the Covid-19 pandemic. [31]

On June 7, 2020, Reclaim the Block partnered with the Black Visions Collective to host a community meeting with members of the Minneapolis City Council. [32] At the event, nine councilmembers confirmed support for measures to dissolve Minneapolis Police Department. [33]

However, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, a Democrat, indicated strong opposition to the councilmembers and Reclaim the Block’s demands. At a march organized by the Black Visions Collective, Frey was heckled and forced to leave by demonstrators after confirming he did “not support the full abolition of the police.” [34]

Leadership

According to an entry on Reclaim the Block’s Facebook page, the organization operates without a traditional leadership hierarchy. [35]

Black Visions Collective executive director Kandace Montgomery is a Reclaim the Block member[36] and is also the former lead organizer of the Black Lives Matter Global Network. [37] In 2014, she was charged with multiple offenses including trespassing after a Black Lives Matter rally at the Mall of America. The charges were later dropped. [38]

MPD150 contributor Tony Williams has also been identified as a member of Reclaim the Block[39] and at times has acted as an unofficial spokesman for the group. [40] In a National Public Radio interview in 2020, Williams responded to a question about how a police-free city would deal with crime, saying, “All of the answers to that require a lot more time than we have here today.” [41]

Financials

As of June 8, 2020, Reclaim the Block is not listed in the Minnesota Attorney General’s online registry of charitable organizations[42] and is not found in the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board registry. [43] The organization has not disclosed its budget or funding sources on its website. [44] However, an email address tied to Black Visions Collective is listed as point of contact for more information regarding grants from 501(c)(3) organizations and donations by mail. [45]

Attention garnered in the wake of George Floyd’s death led to a massive influx of financial support for Reclaim the Block. The Minnesota Freedom Fund, a non-profit dedicated to paying bail for low-income individuals, raised over $20 million earmarked for arrested protestors. [46] As a result, the fund stopped accepting donations and encouraged supporters to contribute to other activist groups including Reclaim the Block and the Black Visions Collective. [47] Shortly thereafter, Reclaim the Block also appeared to discourage new donations and asked supporters to send assistance to allied organizations. [48]

References

  1. Reclaim the Block, About Reclaim the Block. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.reclaimtheblock.org/home/#about ^
  2. Garcia, Isabella, “Minneapolis Activists Ask Local Leaders to Invest in Communities, Not Cops,” Yes! Magazine, January 9, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.yesmagazine.org/social-justice/2020/01/09/invest-communities-not-cops/ ^
  3. Collins, Jon, “Mpls. council moves to shift $1.1 million from police department,” Minneapolis Public Radio, December 1, 2018. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.mprnews.org/story/2018/11/30/mpls-budget-amendment-removes-million-dollars-police ^
  4. Navratil, Liz, “Most of Minneapolis City Council pledges to ‘begin the process of ending’ Police Department,” Star Tribune, June 8, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.startribune.com/mpls-council-majority-backs-dismantling-police-department/571088302/ ^
  5. Bates, Josiah, and Vila, Lissandra, “ ‘You Can Only Demean People So Much.’ Minneapolis Activists Aren’t Surprised a National Movement Started There,” Time, June 3, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://time.com/5846248/minneapolis-george-floyd-police-activists/ ^
  6. Reclaim the Block, About Reclaim the Block. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.reclaimtheblock.org/home/#about ^
  7. Reclaim the Block, About Reclaim the Block. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.reclaimtheblock.org/home/#about ^
  8. MPD150, About. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.mpd150.com/about/ ^
  9. Garcia, Isabella, “Minneapolis Activists Ask Local Leaders to Invest in Communities, Not Cops,” Yes! Magazine, January 9, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.yesmagazine.org/social-justice/2020/01/09/invest-communities-not-cops/ ^
  10. Garcia, Isabella, “Minneapolis Activists Ask Local Leaders to Invest in Communities, Not Cops,” Yes! Magazine, January 9, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.yesmagazine.org/social-justice/2020/01/09/invest-communities-not-cops/ ^
  11. Jones, Hannah, “Minneapolis Police Department budget cut by $1M to fund public safety programs instead,” City Pages, December 2, 2018. Accessed June 9, 2020. http://www.citypages.com/news/minneapolis-police-department-budget-cut-by-1m-to-fund-public-safety-programs-instead/501824851 ^
  12. Reclaim the Block, “Reclaim the Block presents vision for a safer Minneapolis, urges City Council to address root causes of violence instead of adding 14 cops,” November 7, 2019. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5d8faf6f8ba16e7343478cdb/t/5dfabfafb2c1564071cf06dc/1576714160336/RTB+release+11719.pdf ^
  13. Lee, Jessica, “With budget moves, Minneapolis Council looks to take middle path on public safety,” MinnPost, December 9, 2019. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.minnpost.com/metro/2019/12/with-budget-moves-minneapolis-council-looks-to-take-middle-path-on-public-safety/ ^
  14. Black Visions, About, Facebook. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/pg/LitBLVC/about/ ^
  15. Reclaim the Block, “About Reclaim the Block,” Facebook, October 31, 2019. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/pg/reclaimtheblock/about/ ^
  16. Otárola, Miguel, “Movement to defund police sees Minneapolis as proving ground,” Star Tribune, June 9, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.startribune.com/movement-to-defund-police-sees-minneapolis-as-proving-ground/571116932/ ^
  17. Bates, Josiah, and Vila, Lissandra, “ ‘You Can Only Demean People So Much.’ Minneapolis Activists Aren’t Surprised a National Movement Started There,” Time, June 3, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://time.com/5846248/minneapolis-george-floyd-police-activists/ ^
  18. [1] MPD150, “Enough is Enough,” 2017. Accessed June 9, 2020.  https://www.mpd150.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/mpd150_report-compressed%20(1).pdf ^
  19. MPD150, MPD150’s Five Essential Findings. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.mpd150.com/mpd150s-five-essential-findings/ ^
  20. MPD150, “Enough is Enough,” 2017. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.mpd150.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/mpd150_report-compressed%20(1).pdf ^
  21. MPD150, Frequently Asked Questions. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.mpd150.com/faq/ ^
  22. MPD150, About. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.mpd150.com/about/ ^
  23. MPD150, About. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.mpd150.com/about/ ^
  24. Garcia, Isabella,” Minneapolis Activists Ask Local Leaders to Invest in Communities, Not Cops,” Yes! Magazine, January 9, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.yesmagazine.org/social-justice/2020/01/09/invest-communities-not-cops/ ^
  25. Bates, Josiah, and Vila, Lissandra, “ ‘You Can Only Demean People So Much.’ Minneapolis Activists Aren’t Surprised a National Movement Started There,” Time, June 3, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://time.com/5846248/minneapolis-george-floyd-police-activists/ ^
  26. NGP VAN, About. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.ngpvan.com/about ^
  27. Reclaim the Block, Support Reclaim the Block’s work & our broader movement, EveryAction. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://secure.everyaction.com/zae4prEeKESHBy0MKXTIcQ2 ^
  28. Black Visions Collective, Black Visions Donations, EveryAction. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://secure.everyaction.com/4omQDAR0oUiUagTu0EG-Ig2 ^
  29. Sullum, Jacob. “Some of the Charges Stemming From George Floyd’s Death Should Trouble Criminal Justice Reformers,” June 10, 2020. https://reason.com/2020/06/10/some-of-the-charges-stemming-from-george-floyds-death-should-trouble-criminal-justice-reformers/. ^
  30. Reclaim the Block, Sign the Petition. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.reclaimtheblock.org/home/#petition ^
  31. Reclaim the Block, Sign the Petition. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.reclaimtheblock.org/home/#petition ^
  32. Fox 9, “Minneapolis City Council leaders to make ‘major announcement’ at Powderhorn Park on future of city’s police,” June 7, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.fox9.com/news/minneapolis-city-council-leaders-to-make-major-announcement-at-powderhorn-park-on-future-of-citys-police ^
  33. Navratil, Liz, “Most of Minneapolis City Council pledges to ‘begin the process of ending’ Police Department,” Star Tribune, June 8, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.startribune.com/mpls-council-majority-backs-dismantling-police-department/571088302/ ^
  34. Moore, Janet, “Minneapolis Mayor Frey tells ‘DefundMPD’ marchers he favors reforms over disbanding,” Star Tribune, June 7, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020 https://www.startribune.com/frey-tells-defundmpd-marchers-he-favors-reforms-over-disbanding/571075452/ ^
  35. Reclaim the Block, “About Reclaim the Block,” Facebook, October 31, 2019. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/pg/reclaimtheblock/about/ ^
  36. Bates, Josiah, and Vila, Lissandra, “ ‘You Can Only Demean People So Much.’ Minneapolis Activists Aren’t Surprised a National Movement Started There,” Time, June 3, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://time.com/5846248/minneapolis-george-floyd-police-activists/ ^
  37. Voqal, “Black History Month Spotlight: Kandace Montgomery,” February 13, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://voqal.org/black-history-month-spotlight-kandace-montgomery/ ^
  38. ACLU Minnesota, “State of Minnesota v. Montgomery,” 2015. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.aclu-mn.org/en/cases/state-minnesota-v-montgomery ^
  39. Bates, Josiah, and Vila, Lissandra, “ ‘You Can Only Demean People So Much.’ Minneapolis Activists Aren’t Surprised a National Movement Started There,” Time, June 3, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://time.com/5846248/minneapolis-george-floyd-police-activists/ ^
  40. Kelly, Mary Louise. “Activists Investigate The History Of Relationships MPD With African Americans,” NPR, May 29, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.npr.org/2020/05/29/865685697/activists-investigate-the-history-of-relationships-of-mpd-with-african-americans ^
  41. Kelly, Mary Louise. “Activists Investigate The History Of Relationships MPD With African Americans,” NPR, May 29, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.npr.org/2020/05/29/865685697/activists-investigate-the-history-of-relationships-of-mpd-with-african-americans ^
  42. Minnesota Attorney General. Search for Charities and Fundraisers. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.ag.state.mn.us/Charity/Search/Default.asp ^
  43. Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. Accesed June 9, 2020. https://cfb.mn.gov/reports-and-data/viewers/campaign-finance/political-committee-fund/ ^
  44. Reclaim the Block, Home. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.reclaimtheblock.org/home/ ^
  45. Reclaim the Block, Support Reclaim the Block’s work & our broader movement, EveryAction. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://secure.everyaction.com/zae4prEeKESHBy0MKXTIcQ2 ^
  46. Solender, Andrew and Sandler, Rachel, “Minnesota Freedom Fund Raises $20 Million In 4 Days Amid George Floyd Protests,” Forbes, May 30, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewsolender/2020/05/30/minnesota-freedom-fund-raises-20-million-in-4-days-amid-george-floyd-protests/ ^
  47. Solender, Andrew and Sandler, Rachel, “Minnesota Freedom Fund Raises $20 Million In 4 Days Amid George Floyd Protests,” Forbes, May 30, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewsolender/2020/05/30/minnesota-freedom-fund-raises-20-million-in-4-days-amid-george-floyd-protests/ ^
  48. Reclaim the Block, “Fundraising Update,” Facebook, May 31, 2020. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/reclaimtheblock/posts/652603431957867 ^
  See an error? Let us know!